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Op-ed: 'Clash of civilizations' theory will come to no good end

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily)    15:18, May 26, 2019

A senior American official from the State Department recently astonished the world with her racist comments portraying China-US relations as “clash of civilizations”.

The Director of Policy Planning Kiron Skinner seems to be quite blunt about her deeply-rooted racism. She called US ties with China “a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology,” saying the United States hasn’t had that before.

“It’s also striking that this is the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian,” she said.

Such voices are not new, and they remind us of the malicious Nazi curses on the Jewish and Slavonic people. Just imagine how scary it was when the Nazis called the Aryans a superior race and the monstrous crimes they committed since.

“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  The remarks made by American writer Mark Twain are a precise portrayal of the people like Skinner.

What Skinner wants to do is to indiscriminately hammer everything considered a “nail” in China-US relations in excuse of the “clash of civilizations”.

Such philosophy is considered a kind of typical racism by many, including Americans, who expressed strong criticism as it discusses international relations at racial level.

Washington Post commented in an article that Skinner’s argument lacks empirical support, saying the enterprise of classifying countries according to dominant civilizations ignores the variety and contingency of identities.

Bloomberg said the “clash of civilizations” tone has no space in the US foreign policy and does not help the US win competition. Talk of clashing civilizations reveals the racist, and dangerous, lens of the new US statecraft, remarked Foreign Policy.

Skinner is an African American. Has she ever thought of the severe impacts on her own race brought by the racial discrimination that has long plagued the US society when she made racist remarks and talked about Caucasian? Is there any moment that flashed in her mind of the slaughtering made by the so-called “white civilization” to the Indian and black civilizations?

What she believes is groundless, as harmony remains a major feature of the Chinese civilization.

In China’s Han Dynasty around 140 B.C., Zhang Qian, a royal emissary, left Chang’an, capital of the Han Dynasty and traveled westward, opening an overland route linking the East and the West. What he accomplished was a daring undertaking, rather than the “clash of civilizations”.

More than six centuries ago, Chinese mariner and diplomat Zheng He of Ming Dynasty led seven ocean expeditions with the largest fleet in the world then. What he brought to the world was silk, tea and chinaware, rather than the “clash of civilizations”.

Via the exchanges along the ancient Silk Road, China embraced the ancient civilizations from Greece, Rome and India. These civilizations and Chinese civilizations integrated with each other and enjoyed joint development.

The Chinese people pursue harmony in the relationship between human and the world, in the relationship among nations, in social life, in interpersonal relationship, and in ecology.

Such a feature has built a broad and inclusive mind of the Chinese civilization. It has had a profound impact on the Chinese nation from the ancient times to now.

Just as what Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward, the love for peace has been embedded firmly in the spiritual world of the Chinese nation, and remains China’s basic idea in handling international relations.

Skinner’s logic identifying civilizations by races and international conflicts by civilizations is very dangerous.

Abraham Lincoln once said that the Americans are free from racial restrictions. How come the extreme racist voices of White Supremacy is still made in the US today after huge efforts have been made by the people of the country to upheld freedom and equality, abolish slavery and emancipate the black slaveries? It is worth pondering.

Skinner’s racism is dangerous because there is probably only one way to end the race-based “clash of civilizations”– to exterminate the races she dislikes.

Civilizations are created by races and nations. Does the US hope to put an end to the races and nations they dislike and the civilizations related? It needs global attention on such dangerous philosophy, and this racist theory that goes against the trend of history must be terminated.

We have a diverse world and colorful human civilizations, and differences do exist in this world. China and the US have their respective characteristics, and differ in history, culture, social system and people’s demands.

It’s natural but not dangerous for them to have differences. What matters is that they should not take the differences as a reason to make confrontation. On the contrary, they should respect each other and hold equal dialogues, so as to find solutions that are acceptable for both sides.

Civilizations should learn from and appreciate each other. To elevate the issues between countries on the civilization level and degrade civilizations to racial level will not help, but create damages.

Those advocates for racism, you should stop and don’t go against the trend of time! There is no way back if you keep staying wrong-headed.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy)   

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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